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Who Can Receive Social Security Disability Benefits?

October 12, 2008 by The Sawaya Law Firm

Disabled woman moving away from family.

Typically the Social Security Administration pays benefits to people who cannot do any work due to a medical condition and is found disabled by Social Security’s rules. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are paid to a disabled worker who has paid into the Social Security trust fund enough to qualify for the benefit. If a disabled person has not paid enough into the Social Security trust fund to qualify for SSDI benefits, then the person can receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits if he or she meets the income and resource guidelines. A big question for many people is can my family get benefits if I am disabled? Certain family members of disabled workers can receive benefits from Social Security.

A minor child of a disabled worker receiving SSDI benefits usually can get benefits on that disabled parent’s Social Security earnings record until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school which ever is later. The spouse of a disabled worker getting SSDI benefits can also usually get benefits on their disabled spouse’s earnings record if they are not working and have the disabled worker’s child or children in their care until the youngest child turns 16.

There are two other disability programs that allow family members who are themselves disabled to receive benefits from a family member’s benefits. The first program pays benefits to a Disabled Adult Child. If a person is found to be disabled under Social Security’s rules before age 22, that person can receive benefits on a parent’s earnings record if the parent is drawing either retirement or disability benefits or is deceased. The second program is for widows or widowers of a deceased worker. Disabled Widows Benefits are paid to certain widow(er)s age 50-60 from their late spouse’s earnings record and are found disabled under Social Security’s rules.

In the case of someone receiving SSI benefits, family members cannot get benefits based on the disabled person’s SSI benefits.

To find out more about these programs, you can contact the Social Security Administration at 866-701-7302 or

The Sawaya Law Firm is Denver’s personal injury law firm. With over 40 years of experience and a compassionate team prepared to listen to your story, The Sawaya Law Firm is here to help. Contact us anytime.

Michael G Sawaya

Michael established The Sawaya Law Firm in 1977 and built it into one of the largest personal injury law firms in Colorado, with more than 20 lawyers and 80 staff members serving clients from five offices located in Denver, Greeley and Colorado Springs. Throughout its history, the firm has stayed true to its 12 Core Values, which emphasize excellence in advocacy and a commitment to providing outstanding client service. Michael studied sociology and economics as an undergraduate student at The Colorado College, and he earned his law degree from the Texas Tech University School of Law. In addition to being involved in several legal and community organizations, Michael enjoys playing music and cooking, and he has written a book on spiritual matters.

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